Curators Posts

Thomas Wurk Collects Very, VERY Hard To Find Schuco Models

schuco super schnell thomas wurk

If you’ve ever thought of a collectible as “very hard to find,” then consider the story of Thomas Würk, one of hobbyDB’s new Curators. He has an amazing collection of 1/66 scale Schuco Super Schnell cars and other related brands… but getting his hands on them has never been easy.

“I started collecting these models now for over 40 years ago with a break of nearly 20 years,” he said. “In my childhood I collected only eleven of them, because it was very difficult in Eastern-Germany.” Yes, Thomas lived on the other side of the Berlin Wall, where anything from Western Europe, including toy cars, was nearly impossible to obtain. “At this time I had no contact behind the border. I got Matchbox models from my grandma, who had relatives in West Germany. I swapped some of those against Schucos with friends in my town. So every model was hard to get.”

schuco super schnell

By the time Germany was unified, and the borders opened up, he had moved onto other interests and responsibilities in life. He eventually started collecting them again in 2004, which presented a different challenge: The Schuco Super Schnell cars were no longer in production. “It was much easier to get some items, but now the condition became a problem. Most of the toy cars are much play-worn… high mileage in the sandbox, so much lost paint and scratches everywhere.”

schuco super schnell gold plated audi

This real gold-plated Audi 100 LS is one of the absolute rarest Super Schnell cars.

super-schnell-displayThomas also gave himself a new challenge, collecting factory prototypes. “I have some wooden models for made the molds and of course, only one exists of each. The real gold-plated Audi 100 is very rare. Some other promotional-models are also very hard to get.” Schuco did some interesting deals such as using Norev models in the range or selling castings to Brazil, therefore those also get collected (find the Norev Mini Jets and Miniaturas REI here)!  Lastly there are of course also related store displays and merchandising products. He sticks to 1:66 scale cars for space and cost reasons. That small size allows him to have about 500 of them on display in his home in Chemnitz (Saxony) in Germany.

To see more of his collection, you can visit his website (he included an English translation button if you need it!) and of course, browse the database on hobbyDB. When we approached him first, he loved the idea of preserving these items for everyone to enjoy and immediately agreed to become the Curator for Super Schnell.  Even since he’s been uploading his collection at a furious rate (in German they would say Super Schnell…), with more vehicles added daily.

schuco super schnell

Authors and Publishers Tell Their Stories on hobbyDB

Over the last couple of years hobbyDB has become home to the official archives of many brands of toys and collectibles as well several museums that highlight the sorts of things we love here.

The latest trend is for authors and publishers to set up an archive page on hobbyDB. The benefits are similar to how well it works for brands and museums, in that their books can be cross-referenced with a variety of subjects and collectibles. We talked to a few authors of books on automobiles, automobilia, and collectibles who now have archives here to get some insight on the process.


Arthur Ward airfix

Arthur Ward, Airfix expert and author, also knows a thing or two about vintage cars.

Arthur Ward might be a familiar name to certain collectors as the authority on all things Airfix related. In addition to being on our Advisory Board, he has an archive on hobbyDB. “My first book, The Model World of Airfix, was published in 1984, a few years after they  spectacularly went bust in 1981 to be rescued by American multinational General Mills. I knew, and the publisher agreed, that a history of this famous brand would catch the zeitgeist prevalent at the time – the Brits had nearly lost a famous and iconic brand.” As you can tell, this is a bit more than just a hobby for Arthur.

He’s since written several guides to the Airfix brand, but is also the author of books on other subjects such as World War II collectibles. This isn’t too much of a stretch, he says. “The models I built as a kid, the Spitfires,  Messerschmitts, Lancaster bombers, Sherman tanks, Flying Fortresses and the like, encouraged me to research their subjects carefully,” he said. “Making models was always about much more than simply assembling a selection of components – it was about immersing yourself in the subject. Airfix understood this, which was why their box top artwork by people like the legendary Roy Cross was so much more than a simple illustration of the subject at hand.”

Having an expert like him not just curating his books, but also the models he writes about helps lend a lot of credibility to hobbyDB with collectors, which benefits everyone with an interest in collecting.


Frank Barrett

Frank Barrett is the latest automotive author to host his archive on hobbyDB.

Frank Barrett is the latest author to archive his books on hobbyDB. After spending 25 years as editor/publisher of The Star, the national magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, he generally writes about Mercedes-Benz and his first love, Porsche, but his biggest and best book is about a British/American collaboration, the Shelby Cobra. “Writing is hard work,” he explains, ”so you have to find the best publisher you can. For example I did this book with David Bull and he was fantastic to work with.”

Since Frank has worked with several publishers over the years, it can be hard to find all of his books online unless you stumble onto them in a neutral place. Or, you can go to his archive, and find them all. Long story short, it’s good to have a single source that ties them all together. Frank is only in the process of moving his Toad Hall Motorbooks store to hobbyDB where you can buy his books – plus over 1,000 other vintage automotive books and more than 200 original factory-published Porsche posters.


williambooks

William Taylor and his company Coterie Press have published a huge array of automotive books.

William Taylor, another author archived on hobbyDB, has found a reliable publisher he likes to work with… his own company, Coterie Press. Their books (and his own) cover a range of mostly European makes, everything from the manufacturer, the cars, the races, the memorabilia, the models, anything related to the subject. If you don’t believe us, just punch in “Coterie Press Lotus” and look at the depth in coverage.

“Over the course of 15 years publishing automotive books, Coterie Press has archived the motor racing images of photographers Ian Catt, Peter Darley and myself,” William said. “Along with the Classic Team Lotus Collection and several other smaller collections we’ve acquired, Coterie currently have over 100,000 images accessible to them when working on a book project.” So add the vintage photos to their stunning original photography, and that results in some really nice books.

Taylor’s (and his company’s) accurate, beautifully designed books have earned them a reputation with folks in the auto industry and the racing world to grant them access to even more in depth writing possibilities. In this case, we don’t just get a single author’s work accurately represented, we get an entire company to go with it.


We’re looking for other authors and publishers of books that appeal to any type of collectors… brand histories, spotter’s guides, price lists, let us know what you write. When you add your books to our database, we can build a great online library for collectors!

From Critic to Curator: A Hot Wheels Collector’s Tale

For all the growing popularity of hobbyDB as a research place for collectors, we still run into folks who aren’t initially impressed with our site. We’ve been working hard to make the site more flexible, easier to use, and more powerful in its capabilities (and we know there are still issues!) But the most important resource we have to make hobbyDB the best it can be is you, the User.

We ran into “Jay C.”, a Hot Wheels Collector from Canada, in the comments section on another website, and he was critical about what he perceived as a lack of certain information about Hot Wheels cars. Sure, we have over 40,000 entries for Hot Wheels on hobbyDB, but he had a great idea for additional characteristics that could be used to identify and  differentiate models.

Jay thought we could include baseplate identification information in our database, which we thought was a great idea. It’s a huge undertaking, but worth the effort.

Which brings us back to the point about our Users. YOU are the ones who can help fix shortcomings like these. Of the over 200,000 items on our site, over half of them have been added by Users one at a time. Useful features like our Wheel Types identification guide were built by Users.

Jay joined us for an interview since beginning the project. Here it is, edited for length.


When we first heard from you in a forum on another website, you weren’t very keen on hobbyDB. What was your frustration?

Hot Wheels Collector

It’s true, I wasn’t very pleased to have to move from a Hot Wheels centric database (South Texas Diecast) to an all encompassing website with features that I initially found difficult to navigate and interpret.

So as anyone does these days, I vented out my utter frustration in a comments section, describing in great detail how, in my opinion, hobbyDB was missing the target on some aspects of Hot Wheels collecting. I knew that the old database we were all using before had been imported in its entirety on hobbyDB, but I just couldn’t seem to find a way to search it efficiently.

Turns out, people at hobbyDB read these things, so after some back and forth with Christian (whose patience is the stuff of legends, and whose thickness of skin defies our current understanding of human biology), we exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and had a good chat.

What changed your mind?

I wrote a long e-mail with examples, ideas, and other ramblings that I thought would help get Hot Wheelers on board with hobbyDB and then chatted over the phone with Christian in response. He schooled me on many aspects of the site that I did not know, and I told him about some quirks of Hot Wheels collecting that hobbyDB would benefit from knowing, in order to make searching and cataloguing more efficient and more fun.

I was also aware that the current hobbyDB design and layout might work perfectly for other types of collecting that are thriving on the site, so I tried to think about ways to enhance hobbyDB’s Hot Wheels game without ruining it for everyone else.

What made me change my mind was the immediate attention and response of the hobbyDB team. They were fully in tune with the community, actually made the transition a lot easier, not to mention the fact that they actually care about user feedback, which makes a huge difference to me.

You’ve started adding detailed information about Hot Wheels baseplates. Do you collect based on these differences?

hot wheels baseplate

Indeed, one of the things we discussed over the phone was the baseplate copyright year of the cars. As you might know, the year under a Hot Wheels car is not the year this particular car was released by Mattel, but rather the year Mattel acquired the rights to make the car from the manufacturer. So even brand new cars that you buy at Wal-Mart today might have a baseplate year from the 1970’s, but you’re just buying the 2016 release of that casting. If you have a car with a baseplate year of 1981, you can be pretty confident its first release was 1982 or 1983.

Personally, I don’t collect based on this, but it’s a crucial part of my collecting habits because I mostly buy old loose cars, and the actual name of the car is not always stamped on the base (like the Peugeot 405, among many, many others), and all you have to identify it is the year on the base of the car.

Since the fields in every collectible profile on HobbyDB allow for a lot of freedom, Christian offered me the chance to set up and curate some baseplate years on the site, which I gladly agreed to do.

The goal is to list every first edition of Hot Wheels casting by baseplate year. So you’ll be able to scroll through a list of cars that have a given year on the baseplate, locate your casting, and then click the variants button to locate your exact car.

hot wheels baseplate

Now, I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of Hot Wheels castings, which is why I still need pictures to put a name on some cars, so I encourage other Users to chime in when they see a missing casting for a given year. Ideally, only the first editions of every casting will be listed for each baseplate year, so if you have a car with a baseplate year of 1981, it might not be the first edition of that car, so the car you see under the 1981 baseplate year list might be the same casting, but of a different color than the one you are trying to ID. But you’ll be able to click on it anyways, and then hit the variants button to identify your exact release of that casting.

What other information do you think would be useful to collectors in our database?

Again, speaking from my own loose car collector perspective, I think being able to quickly find the “Made in” field in search results or variant lists would speed things up even more. Sometimes, this is the only difference there is between identical cars. Was it made in Hong Kong? Malaysia? France?

Actually, the quantity of information available for each car on HobbyDB is amazing, it’s just a matter of tweaking how it’s organized. For example, after clicking the variants button, you see a list of folders that represent the series through which this casting was released: Flying colors, First Editions, Mainline, Workhorses. However, when you have a loose car, you don’t always know which series it came from, so you have to browse back and forth until you find your exact release.

One solution would be an “ALL” button that will list every variation of a given casting in one place regardless of the series it came from, similar to the arrangement on South Texas Diecast.

To me, the main fields we need to ID and differentiate loose cars are the color of the car, the wheels (color and type), the tampos, the color of the windows, the color of the interior, the color, year and material of the base and where it’s been made. We can sort through 99% of loose oldies with those alone.

What is your favorite casting or series of Hot Wheels?

I absolutely love the Nascar type racers from the 80’s. Cars like the Mirada stocker, the Front Runnin’ Fairmont, Mountain Dew Stocker, Flatout 442! The tampos are great on these and they look awesome when you have them all together in a display­. As far as more modern releases go, I was a big fan of the Classics (that antifreeze green could end wars) and Drag Strip Demons series.

How many Hot Wheels do you have, and how long have you collected them?

Last time I checked my list, I had around 2000 carded cars from 2005 to 2016, and around 300 loose ones, mostly blackwall era cars from the ’80s. The carded cars I have are mostly classic old cars like muscle cars. I’ve been collecting Hot Wheels since 2006. I started keeping carded cars when I ran out of space to open them and display the loose ones, and over the years I started focusing more on loose oldies.

What else do you collect?

I have a bunch of old video game consoles and games, but I wouldn’t call myself a collector. I guess that’s the disease… You don’t think you’re a collector until your friends and family come over and start freaking out over how much crap you got.

As we mentioned, the baseplate project is a huge undertaking, which Jay has graciously started on his own. The next step is to link every vehicle to the correct baseplate year. If you have some knowledge of this particular detail and want to help, let us know and we can arrange to have you join in!

Profiles in Curating: Meet Wayne Elvis Creeden

August 16 marks the 39th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. Despite almost four decades passing since then, he still remains a pop culture icon and musical powerhouse. Today we’ll be posting some of our favorite Elvis related items on our Facebook page. We also want you to meet Wayne Elvis Creeden, who curates our Elvis Presley subject page. 

Wayne Elvis Creeden

“What sparked my interest in Elvis was his personality and graciousness towards other people,” said Creeden. When he was sixteen, a friend commented that his voice sounded like Elvis. “He said we should go out and sing so we did… it started from there and continued until now I’m 56.” If you do the math, that means he started impersonating the King around 1976, making him one of the earliest to do that.

“My favorite era is 1968-73,” Creeden says. That would be early in the jumpsuit era, when Elvis was still a fairly trim thirty-something. His favorite songs include “American Trilogy” and “In The Ghetto.” And yes, Creeden has competed with other impersonators on stage, in full costume. “First time I went to the Elvis fest in Collingwood, Ontario I placed 18th… I was 42 at the time.”

I’ve been to Graceland,” he said. “It’s awesome, and everyone should go at least once. It’s just cool to see the way he lived and his cool things he owned.” In the meantime, you should visit hobby and punch in “Elvis.” You can see what’s in our database and we encourage you to add anything you have in your own collection. Thank you very much!

Profiles In Curating: Jay Comparoni, Corvette Guy

Curators are an important part of the hobbyDB family. As much as we try to be experts on anything and everything collectible, we rely on our Curators to help sort through data, fill in missing information, and fix errors and misinformation. From time to time, we’ll be profiling these defenders of the database.


Jay Comparoni Hot Wheels Corvette

Jay Comparoni is Curator for several castings of Corvettes from Mattel, including Hot Wheels and Matchbox offerings. “My love for Hot Wheels started as a young child building HO scale train layouts with my grandfather back in 1968,” he said. “I saw the Hot Wheel commercials that in reality were short films about the new Hot Wheels cars. I got my first Hot Wheels Corvette at a five and dime shop in Monterey Park in California and now have in the area of 50,000 vehicles.”

“I’ve had a passion for Corvettes since the late sixties when Mattel released the first Custom Corvette,” he said. “That model hit the shelves before the 1:1 driver version of the 1968 Corvette. I currently own a 1976 Corvette that up until 2014 was the last year that wore the Stingray badge.”

Jay Comparoni 1976 Corvette

After getting a miniature Corvette as a kid, Comparoni added this 1976 Vette to his collection.

“I’d estimate my total collection to be in the neighborhood of 50,000 Hot Wheels so it will take some time to get them all identified in the DB.” Jay was excited to get involved with hobbyDB as a curator. “It’s an opportunity to share my knowledge of Hot Wheels and showcase my collection in an environment accessible to the collecting community worldwide,” Jay said. “The site is user friendly and easy to understand and provides all the necessary information any collector could need all in one place.”

It should come as no surprise that he is most partial to the C3 Corvettes, as both his real car and his very first Hot Wheels are of that type. There have been several models of C3s (not necessarily 1976) in colors close to his car. So yeah, those are his absolute favorites.

Jay Comparoni Hot Wheels Corvette

Comparoni found matching C3 Corvettes from Hot Wheels in 1:18 and 1:64 scales.

As for displays, he has “somewhere between five and ten thousand loose Hot Wheels in display cases throughout my home.” I don’t separate between redlines, mainline, limited edition, or even the few customs I have. They’re all displayed based on vehicle type and model to show the versions and variations over the years.” You can see some of it here.

Jay Comparoni Hot Wheels collection

This is just a small portion of Comparoni’s diecast collection.

In addition to Hot Wheels and some Corvette models from other brands, he collects model car kits,  mostly Corvettes from all generations and a good amount of Tom Daniel kits. We should all be glad to have him on board!


If you’re interested in becoming a hobbyDB curator, there’s more information and contact info here.